Weekly Senate Update 7-18-2014

A legislative panel reviewing Governor Quinn’s failed anti-violence initiative put off testimony from subpoenaed former Quinn administration officials until October, complying with a request from the U.S. Attorney’s office, State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) said.

The Legislative Audit Commission had intended to begin hearing from seven of Quinn’s former top aides, as the panel continues its review of the mismanaged and controversial Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI). But, after meeting July 16-17 the panel delayed taking testimony until Oct. 8.

James Lewis, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, asked the Legislative Audit Commission not to interview witnesses for 90 days, so as not to impact any ongoing criminal investigation conducted by his office.

In the meantime, the Commission will continue to gather documents related to the program and will post those documents on the public website of the Audit Commission.

Grant transparency legislation

As the panel got underway, Quinn sought to deflect criticism of the management of the program he started in 2010, by signing a measure intended to increase accountability in state grant awards.

House Bill 2747 (PA 98-0706) creates the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act, which would basically adopt federal uniform rules for grants issued by state agencies.  The goal is to eliminate duplicative and conflicting guidance; provide for consistent and transparent treatment of allowable costs charged to grants; set standard application processes; reduce administrative burdens; and place greater reliance on audit reports to increase efficiency in required monitoring activities.

While applauding the intent, critics raised concerns because the legislation allows the Governor to appoint the members of the board that is supposed to oversee the actions of the Governor’s administration.

Moved to labor department?

Grant awards have been at the heart of the controversy over the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, with regular news stories detailing questionable and, in some cases, fraudulent activities related to grants handed out under the program.

Although the Governor has publicly tried to put the program behind him, lawmakers point to $20 million in new spending in the current year budget that they say could be used to fund a re-branded version of the same failed program. That $20 million was handed off to the Illinois Department of Labor with a vague description to fund a program that sounds almost identical to the NRI.

The cost of corruption

Critics say a recent study illustrates the cost to taxpayers of politicized programs like the NRI. Researchers from Indiana University and City University of Hong Kong recently released a study that attempts to put a dollar figure on public corruption. Illinois was among the state’s studied and the professors said that in the 10 most corrupt states (with Illinois among those 10) taxpayers pay an average “corruption tax” of $1,308 per person.

Concealed carry

In an announcement related to the state’s new concealed carry law, which was approved last year, the Illinois State Police said persons who have a permit denied because of an objection from local law enforcement authorities, will now have access to the reasons behind that denial and have an opportunity to refute the reasons for the denial.

The change was needed because, under the previous system, persons who were denied concealed carry permits were told they would have to go to court to challenge the denial. This resulted in hundreds of lawsuits and mounting legal costs.

As of mid-July about 64,000 concealed carry permits have been issued in Illinois.

Medical marijuana

Illinois also continues to move forward on medical marijuana. The legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules signed off on proposed regulations July 15, which detail how state agencies will comply with the legislation and administer the program.

Applications for those seeking to use, grow or sell medical marijuana are expected to become available in August, with the state starting to accept and review applications in September. The state’s medical marijuana program coordinator has said patients with the most serious medical conditions may be able to begin buying medical marijuana early next year.

State pension funds get settlement

Illinois’ troubled pension funds will get a small boost from a national settlement over problematic home loans that fed the 2008 nationwide financial crisis.

Illinois is scheduled to receive $84 million as part of a national $7 billion settlement with Citigroup Inc., over risky mortgage-backed securities. The state Teachers’ Retirement System is expected to receive $33.04 million, while the State Universities Retirement System will receive $3.12 million and $7.83 million will be paid to the board overseeing retirement systems for state employees, elected state officials and judges.

The remaining $40 million is to go to consumers, with an independent monitor appointed to oversee how the money is distributed.

Bills signed into law

Dozens of measures were signed into law recently and hundreds more are likely to be approved over the coming weeks as the annual deadline for Governor’s action approaches. Each year the General Assembly has 30 days to send legislation to the Governor’s desk and he has 60 days to act on the bills. Because the legislature adjourned at the beginning of June, that means that all measures must be either approved or vetoed by the end of August.

Bill recently signed into law include:

Defines Dyslexia (HB 3700/PA 98-0705): Requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules that include an international definition of dyslexia.

Subject to appropriation or availability of private donations, the State Board shall also establish an advisory group to develop a training module for education and professional development for school personnel regarding multi-sensory, systematic and sequential instruction in reading.  Before July 31, 2015, the advisory group shall complete its work and is abolished.

Grant Transparency (HB 2747/PA 98-0706): Creates the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act to adopt federal uniform rules for grants issued by state agencies.  The goal is to eliminate duplicative and conflicting guidance; provide for consistent and transparent treatment of allowable costs charged to grants; set standard application processes; reduce administrative burdens; and place greater reliance on audit reports to increase efficiency in required monitoring activities. Concerns were raised that the legislation allows the Governor to appoint the members of the board that is supposed to oversee the actions of the Governor’s administration.

Children’s Information (HB 671/PA 98-0707): Deletes a provision in state law that allowed vendors of personal information to assume parental consent to the buying and selling of a child’s personal information. This legislation would permit the sale or purchase of a child’s personal information without parental consent when it is made as part of a criminal or civil investigation.

Clinical Lab Testing Guidelines (HB 2544.PA 98-0708): Requires every accountable care organization providing diagnosis and treatment for patients in this State to establish an advisory board to consider and recommend guidelines or protocols for clinical laboratory testing.

CTA/RTA Board (HB 3659/PA 98-709): Makes a clarification that CTA board members cannot hold any other office or employment in Federal, State or local government other than military positions or those positions that pay less than $15,000 per year. Also clarifies that RTA and Metra board members cannot be members of the board for any other transportation agency, or be a state or local government employee, an employee of any other transportation agency, or receive compensation from any elected or appointed office under the Constitution and laws of Illinois.

Special Education (HB 3777/PA 98-0710): Provides that special education cooperatives that are established by school districts are eligible for school maintenance grants.

Financial Exploitation (HB 3830/PA 98-0711): Requires the Department of Human Services Inspector General to report substantiated allegations of financial exploitation to the Department of Public Health’s Health Care Worker Registry. Under current law, the Department of Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) is responsible to investigate suspected financial exploitation in facilities either licensed or funded by DHS. Substantiated findings, however, are not reported to the Health Care Worker Registry. (Only substantiated cases of physical or sexual abuse and egregious neglect are reported.) This omission means that individuals who commit financial exploitation are eligible to take positions at state funded, licensed, and certified programs.

Municipal Pension Contributions (HB 3902/PA 98-0712): The definition of employee would be altered for new municipal hires who are part of a collective bargaining unit as defined by the Taft-Hartley federal law, regarding employee pension contributions. This was introduced to avoid situations where a union member is contracted by an Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) employer and works for more than 600 hours in a year. Under current law they then become a participant in two plans, IMRF and a Taft-Hartley Plan. The measure is expected to save money for municipalities that employ workers under these agreements.

Engineering/Surveying Licensure Exam (HB 3963/PA 98-0713): Instead of an 8-hour written exam for licensure for professional and structural engineers and professional land surveyors, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will adopt rules to be used in developing the exam.

Electronics Recycling (HB 4227/PA 98-0714): Reduces the amount of items that have to be individually weighed and reported to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) under the Electronics Products and Recycling and Reuse Act. This bill is an initiative of the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) to streamline the current electronic waste (e-waste) reporting law. Illinois’ e-waste law currently requires collectors to classify e-waste components into more extensive categories than most other states who operate similar programs.

Private College Construction (HB 4244/PA 98-0715): The former Springfield College of Illinois Campus was granted $1 million for capital infrastructure upgrades in 2010 and the legislation will enable Benedictine University to take over that grant since SCI is now defunct and part of the Benedictine schools. 

Tuberculosis Screening (HB 4262/PA 98-0716): Removes a requirement that new employees provide evidence of freedom from tuberculosis.  It provides instead that a new or existing employee may be subject to additional health exams, including screening for tuberculosis, as required by rules adopted by the Department of Public Health or by order of a local public health official.

Victim Registry Confidentiality (HB 4266/PA 98-0717): Prohibits the Prisoner Review Board from releasing the name or address of a victim to anyone other than law enforcement. Prohibits the Attorney General’s office from releasing the personal information of any person or entity registered to receive a victim’s information or notifications to anyone other than state or local officials.

GED Certificates (HB 4336/PA 98-0718): Changes references in state statutes from “General Education Development (GED) testing and certificates” to “high school equivalency testing and certificates”. An identical bill, SB 2729, passed the Senate unanimously. This is being done because the owner of the GED test has contract with a private company to administer the test and prices are expected to rise significantly. Changing the references in state statutes to the generic high school equivalency will allow other tests to be used and foster competition.

Community College Director (HB 4340/PA 98-0719): Changes the title of the top executive of the Illinois Community College Board from “President and CEO” to “Executive Director.” The Board felt that this title was more in line with other state board and commissions rather than the title of President.

Business Registration (HB 4360/PA 98-0720): Makes updates and adds clarifications to the Secretary of State’s business services and registration offices and duties.  Updates several provisions pertaining to limited liability companies (LLCs) and various reporting requirements and timelines that must be followed by both the LLC and the Secretary of State.

Surplus Equipment (HB 4385/PA 98-0721): This would allow the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to sell used off-road equipment like wheel loaders, motor graders, mowing tractors, and backhoes to units of local government via the same process used to get rid of cars and trucks. If vehicles are not needed by other state agencies, local governments are allowed to submit sealed bids.  Any proceeds from the sale of the vehicles is deposited in the Road Fund.

Commercial Drivers (HB 4386/PA 98-0722): Brings Illinois in line with federal law regarding Commercial Driver’s Licenses.

Land Conveyance (HB 4395/PA 98-0723): This is the annual land conveyance bill that allows the Illinois Department of Transportation to sell property that is no longer needed by the State.

Clinical Professional Counselor (HB 4405/PA 98-0724): Defines the term “clinical professional counselor,” and requires the individual to be licensed as a clinical professional counselor in accordance with state law.

Probation Officers and Firearms (HB 4417/PA 98-0725): Designed to give probation officers more access to firearms training. This is an initiative of the Illinois Probation and Court Services Association. They are required to be trained but because they do not meet the current definition of “peace officer” in either the Police Training Act or Illinois Peace Office Training Act, they can have a difficult time securing training.

SOS Omnibus (HB 4422/PA 98-0726): Secretary of State omnibus legislation that includes a provision allowing certain cancer patients with serious disabilities to receive disabled ID cards; Gives the Secretary discretionary authority to suspend the driving privileges of military personnel that have been punished by military authorities in another state for a traffic offense if it would have resulted in suspension if committed in Illinois; removes the Commercial Driver’s License restriction that would allow a person to only operate a school bus.

Nursing Service Reimbursement Methodology (HB 4600/PA 98-0727): In provisions regarding nursing services reimbursement methodology utilizing the Resource Utilization Groups (RUGs) system, specifies the methodology will be based upon the Assessment Reference Date of the Minimum Data Set (MDS). 

Medical Isotope (HB 4687/PA 98-0728): Reduce the fees for shipping cobalt-60, a medical isotope, less than 100 miles. For trips less than 100 miles, the fee will be reduced from $2,500 per truck to $1,500 for the first truck and $750 for each additional truck in the same shipment. Cobalt-60 is used mainly in the cleaning and sterilization of medical supplies. Proponents say the current fees make shipping cobalt-60 prohibitively expensive.

Downstate Police Pension Creation (HB 4691/PA 4691): Upon the creation of a new Downstate Police Fund, IMRF is required to transfer employee contributions, plus interest, and employer contributions for those officers transferring membership to the newly created fund. New police pension funds are created when towns grow to more than 5,000 in population.

Provisional CPA Licensure (HB 4707/PA 98-0730): Allows the Department of Professional Regulation to grant a six-month provisional license for registered certified public accountants in other states, who are awaiting Illinois licensure or may only be here temporarily.

MWRD Renewable Energy (HB 4716/PA 98-0731): Allows the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to sell or otherwise dispose of recovered resources or renewable energy resources resulting from the operation of district facilities. Recovered resources include solids, semi-solids, liquids, gases including biogas, carbon dioxide, methane, nutrients, algae, treated effluent, and thermal energy or hydropower.  It also allows the district to take in materials used in the generation of usable products from recovered resources or which increase the production of renewable energy resources.

 Prosecutor Immunity (HB 4731/PA 98-0732): Individuals who contract with the Office of the State’s Attorney’s Appellate Prosecutor to provide legal services (when performing duties within the scope of the Office’s prosecutorial activities) will be considered employees to ensure that indemnification is available only for contractual employees who are performing prosecutorial legal services.

National Guard Lodging (HB 4734/PA 98-0733): Creates the Illinois National Guard Billeting Fund. “Billeting” is synonymous with lodging. Establishes a non-appropriated, self-sustaining billeting fund for the Illinois National Guard’s (ILNG) chargeable transient quarters, or billeting, operations.

Until recently all funds collected and dispersed for ILNG billeting operations were channeled through a non-appropriated fund held by the federal comptroller. However, National Guard Regulation (NGR) 210-50 mandates that each State collect and disperse funds for chargeable quarters only through state funds.

County Impoundments (HB 4743/PA 98-0734): Allows counties to, through an ordinance, set procedures for the release of properly impounded vehicles and charge reasonable fees to cover administrative, processing, impoundment, storage, release costs, and detention and arrest of an offender.

Condominiums and E-mail (HB 4784/PA 98-0735): Allows a condominium board to issue electronic notifications and other communications for association members who opt-in to such a communication system.  Also allows a condo owner to designate either an e-mail address or Postal address (or both) for official purposes and for an association’s records.

Tollway Eminent Domain (HB 4786/PA 98-0736): Requires the Illinois Tollway Authority to follow the highest possible payment limit directive for eminent domain land acquisition if there is a conflict between the (Illinois) Toll Highway Act and any applicable federal laws or regulations.

Window Tinting (HB 5468/PA 98-0737): Allows those who have been issued medial certificates allowing them to have tinted windows on their vehicle to renew the certificate every four years instead of annually.

Local Audit Reports (HB 5503/PA 98-0738): Provides greater transparency of local audits by issuing copies to each member and requiring a live presentation of the audit.  Within 60 days of the close of an annual audit of the county’s funds and accounts, the auditor conducting the audit would be required to provide copies of any management letter and any audited financial statements to each member of the county board. The auditor would also be required to present the audit findings to the county board either in person or phone or web connection during a public meeting. Also would require the county to post the audit information to its website, if it maintains a website.

Obsolete Bills (HB 5588/PA 98-0739): This is the Illinois State Board of Education’s annual obsolete or duplicative laws clean-up bill.

Prevailing Wage (HB 5606/PA 98-0740): Exempts soil and water conservation projects from the Prevailing Wage Act. During debate, it was pointed out the irony of exempting one group from prevailing wage requirements when the General Assembly under Democrat leadership has consistently expanded prevailing wage requirements, raising costs for other projects.

School Improvements (HB 5619/PA 98-0741): Provides that impact fees or developer donations may be used for technological infrastructure in addition to land or site improvements. Impact fees or developer donations are currently used for school grounds, which includes school buildings or other infrastructure necessitated and attributed to the development or subdivision.

Higher Education Statute Clean-up (HB 5679/PA 98-0742): The legislation deletes old legislative language concerning the High School Feedback System for data collection.

Bulletproof Vests (HB 5688/PA 98-0743): Requires law enforcement agencies to provide bulletproof vests for officers. Outlines requirements that the law enforcement agency, the state and local governments must pursue to provide funding for the cost of these vests. Since 1999, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) program has reimbursed more than 13,000 jurisdictions, a total of $288 million in federal funds for the purchase of over one million vests (1,146,909 as of December, 2013). Based on data collected and recorded by BJA staff, in FY 2012, protective vests were directly attributable to saving the lives of at least 33 law enforcement and corrections officers, in 20 different states, an increase 13.7% over FY 2011. At least 14 of those life-saving vests had been purchased, in part, with BVP funds.

Judicial Circuit Judgeships (HB 5824/PA 98-0744): Provides that the first associate judgeship in the 23rd circuit that becomes vacant after the effective date shall become a resident judgeship from DeKalb County.  Kendall County is receiving a fourth resident judgeship and this will bring DeKalb County into line with Kendall County. 

IPSAN (HB 5864/PA 98-0745): Clarifies that the Illinois Public Safety Agency Network Act (IPSAN) is an entity with statewide jurisdiction and involvement. The proposed changes streamline and more logically define the IPSAN Board of Directors.

The Illinois Public Safety Agency Network (IPSAN) is a not-for-profit corporation created to assume the duties and responsibilities of the Illinois Criminal Justice Public Information Authority (ICJPIA). This allowed IPSAN to succeed the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority in the management, operation, and general oversight of law enforcement communications and information systems including existing ALERTS, ALECS, and PIMS networks.

BiOptic Driving Permits (HB 5895/PA 98-0746): Allows persons using non-traditional visual aid instruments, such as BiOptics to apply for a special, restricted driver’s training permit.  The permit would allow the applicant to drive from sunset to 10:00 p.m. for six months as long as the applicant is accompanied by a person who has a valid driver’s license with no nighttime driving restrictions. BiOptic glasses are vision-enhanced lenses with extreme magnification. They may take the form of head-mounted eyeglasses similar in appearance to goggles or binoculars.

Vision Aid License Renewal (HB 5897/PA 98-0747): Allows people who utilize a BiOtpic or telescopic lens for nighttime driving only to take the required driving test once every four (4) years instead of annually. BiOptic glasses are vision-enhanced lenses with extreme magnification. They may take the form of head-mounted eyeglasses similar in appearance to goggles or binoculars. Maintains provisions in current law that provides that all telescopic lens wearers must submit a Vision Specialist Report annually.  These tests must be done after dark, making scheduling the tests, especially during the summer months, difficult.

State Land Trespass (HB 5922/PA 98-0748): Enhances the penalty for trespassing on property owned by CTA, PACE, Metra, and RTA to a Class 4 felony for a second or subsequent violation. The felony offense is limited to those who enter upon the forbidden part of a right of way, including facilities or improvement areas (rather than simply “land”).

Mobile Homes and “Real Property” (HB 5938/PA 98-0749): Creates the Conveyance and Encumbrance of Manufactured Homes As Real Property and Severance Act.  Essentially allows a homeowner to claim that a mobile or manufactured home is the same as affixed “real property” (i.e. a home or condo).  It is important to note that this would be a voluntary decision made by the homeowner.  This would bring Illinois in line with other states regarding “real property” definitions in relation to home loan rules and regulations while also making the loan application and approval process easier for the current and prospective homeowner.

Regional Economic Development (SB 498/PA 98-0750): Broadens powers of some regional economic development authorities. These changes include increasing the amount of bonds that can be sold by the Tri-County River Valley authority from $100 million to $250 million and giving the Tri-County authority the ability to sell bonds with interest that is exempt from state income taxes.  The Tri-County authority covers Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties.

Career and Tech Ed (SB 587/PA 98-0751): Provides that an individual seeking a career and technical education endorsement need only pass a basic skills test for renewal of the endorsement.

Reptiles and Amphibians (SB 902/PA 98-0752): Creates the Herptiles – Herps Act, which sets provisions for permits to acquire, breed, and sell herptiles (reptiles/amphibians) listed in the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Act. All permits, fees and fines will be determined by administrative rule through the Department of Natural Resources.

Rosehill Cemetery (SB 1047/PA 98-0753): Updates a private law from 1863 that dealt with Rosehill Cemetery (in Cook County).

Residential Property Disclosure (SB 2597/PA 98-0754): Requires that a seller or firm disclose material defects of doors and windows in a residential unit to prospective buyers.  This is in addition to the 23 current disclosures that must be made under the original Act.

Mutual Insurance Co. to Stock Co. (SB 2634/PA 98-0755): Changes the time frame on a vote of a mutual insurance company’s plan to convert to a stock insurance company to no sooner than 30 days after notice of the conversion meeting is mailed by the mutual company (rather than 60 days).

Annual Revisory Act (SB 2640/PA 98-0756): This yearly initiative to clean up the state’s statutes combines multiple versions of sections amended by more than one public act. Renumbers sections of various acts to eliminate duplication. Corrects obsolete cross-references and technical errors and makes stylistic changes.

 DOC Drug Testing Training Changes (SB 2668/PA 98-0757):  Lowers the training requirement of those who administer drug tests to DOC employees from 40 hours to 15 hours.

Organ Donor Leave Act (SB 2769/PA 98-0758): Grants Central Management Services the authority to create rules governing paid leave of state employees for blood, organ, and bone marrow donation. Leave for donation must be requested in advance by the employee.

Flexible Fuel SOS Exemption (SB 2803PA 98-0759): Exempts the Secretary of State from a 25% flexible fuel vehicle requirement when purchasing new vehicles, except for mid-sized sedans. A similar exemption is in place for Department of Corrections and State Police patrol vehicles. This is because police and certain other large vehicles are not practical as flex-fuel options.

Firefighter Scoring (SB 2826/PA 98-0760): Requires firefighter applicants to meet or exceed a minimum score to be eligible for selection (currently, must meet or exceed the median score of those taking the test). This bill is proposed by the Illinois Attorney General as a way to ameliorate concerns by the federal Department of Justice that the new Illinois firefighter hiring statute – passed in 2011 – may unintentionally discriminate against minorities. The way current law is written, the median score changes depending on who shows up to take the test on a given day. This bill would establish a minimum threshold, regardless of who shows up to take the test.

STD Testing (SB 2956/PA 98-0761): Brings state law into compliance with federal regulations when a State’s Attorney seeks a court order to compel an accused offender to be tested for any sexually transmissible disease, including a test for HIV. This was a request by the federal government to clarify and to ensure continued grant funding.

Condominium Association Insurance (SB 3014/PA 98-0762): Amends the Condominium Property Act by requiring insurance coverage that is sufficient to rebuild or demolish the property if damaged. Coverage must also include demolition costs and increased cost of construction. The combined total of these two shall be no less than 10% of each insured building value or $500,000, whichever is less. The legislation requires liability coverage for condominium directors and officers, as well as workers’ compensation insurance for employees. And lastly, changes made by the bill will only apply to insurances policies issued or renewed on or after June 1, 2015.

Statutory Court Fee Task Force (SB 3022PA 98-0763): Extends the Statutory Court Fee Task Force reporting deadline to June 1, 2016 (instead of 2014). The Statutory Court Fee Task Force is charged with conducting a thorough review of the various statutory fees imposed or assessed on criminal defendants and civil litigants.

Contractor & Subcontractor Liens (SB 3023/PA 98-0764): Forbids two consenting parties (usually a contractor and subcontractor) to set up a subordinate lien system, or a system in which one party is paid before another, when work is done to real property. The bill provides a limited exception for agreements to subordinate a mechanics lien to a mortgage lien that secures a construction loan if that agreement is made after more than 50% of the loan has been disbursed to fund improvements to the property. 

Nursing Home Monitors (SB 3035/PA 98-0765): This legislation permits the reimbursement of nursing home monitors from the Long Term Care Monitor/Receiver Fund for expenses incurred as monitors. Currently only nursing home receivers are authorized reimbursement. Funds allocated to hire or maintain surveyors, however, may not be used to reimburse either monitors or receivers.

Workplace Violence (SB 3038/PA 98-0766): This is a follow up bill to HB 2590 from 2013, which created the Workplace Violence Prevention Act. The bill seeks to explain the intent of Act and the processes that must be followed by an employer before obtaining a workplace protection restraining order. It also provides that the Workplace Violence Prevention Act does not trump other labor laws or lawful First Amendment activity.

Blood Specimen Examination (SB 3077/PA 98-0767): The bill allows advanced practice nurses and physician assistants greater flexibility when dealing with collaborative agreements or written supervision agreements with hospitals or hospital affiliates for blood specimen examination.

Therapist Endorsements (SB 3115/PA 98-0768): Allows a licensed physical therapist to use testimonials of superior quality of care to entice the public.

Carnival & Amusement Rides (SB 3125/PA 98-0769): Changes the name of the Carnival and Amusement Ride Safety Act to “the Amusement Ride and Attraction Safety Act”.  The bill also adds “amusement enterprise” into the Act to more broadly describe who and what this Act covers.

Escape Attempt Ramifications (SB 3332/PA 98-0770): Provides that a person in the custody of (rather than committed to) the Department of Human Services under the provisions of the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act who is under a detention order, commitment order, conditional release order, or other court order who intentionally escapes from any secure facility or from a Department employee or any of its agents (rather than a person committed to the Department of Human Services under the provisions of the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act or in detention with the Department of Human Services awaiting such a commitment) who intentionally escapes from any secure residential facility or from a Department employee or any of its agents (rather than the custody of an employee of that facility) commits a Class 2 felony.

Aquatic Life Definition (SB 3333/PA 98-0771): Changes the definition of aquatic life to mean all fish, reptiles, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans, algae, aquatic plants, and aquatic invertebrates. The legislation also expands the definition of aquatic life to include any other aquatic plants or animals that the Department of Natural Resources identifies after consultation with biologists, zoologists, or other wildlife experts.

One of the arguments in favor of this expansion is that it would enable better monitoring of potential pollutants, which might not have an immediate effect on fish, amphibians and larger invertebrates.  Monitoring less complex aquatic life can serve as an “early warning” system before other populations are impacted. 

Fox Valley Park District (SB 3387/PA 98-0772): Allows the Fox Valley Pleasure Driveway and Park District to reorganize as the Fox Valley Park District. The legislation allows the newly named District to transition from the existing park district board consisting of six appointed trustees with four-year terms to a board of seven elected commissioners with three two-member districts and one member elected at large. 

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